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Erwinaze Side Effects Center

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

Last reviewed on RxList 5/6/2016

Erwinaze (asparaginase Erwinia chrysanthemi) is indicated for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients who have developed an allergy (hypersensitivity) to E. coli derived asparaginase and pegaspargase chemotherapy drugs used to treat ALL. Side effects of Erwinaze include:

Erwinaze is available in vials in the strength of 10,000 IUs (International Units) per ml when reconstituted. The recommended dose is in the strength of 25,000 IUs per injection. Erwinaze is injected directly into the muscle three times a week and works by breaking down one of the body's protein building blocks (the amino acid, asparagine) that is present in the blood, and is necessary for the growth of all cells. Leukemia cells cannot produce this protein building block. Erwinaze may interact with other drugs. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use.There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of Erwinaze in pregnant women. It is not known whether Erwinaze can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproduction capacity. Erwinaze should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed. It is not known whether Erwinaze is secreted in human milk. Because many drugs are secreted in human milk, and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in breastfeeding infants from Erwinaze, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother. Pediatric patients (aged 2 -18) have been studied; before using this drug in a child, consultation with a pediatric specialist is suggested.

Our Erwinaze Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is Patient Information in Detail?

Easy-to-read and understand detailed drug information and pill images for the patient or caregiver from Cerner Multum.

Erwinaze in Detail - Patient Information: Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
  • any bleeding that will not stop;
  • fever;
  • seizure (convulsions);
  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;
  • sudden severe headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance;
  • chest pain, sudden cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, coughing up blood;
  • pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs; or
  • high blood sugar (increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, weight loss).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mild nausea;
  • diarrhea; or
  • mild stomach pain.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Erwinaze (Asparaginase Erwinia Chrysanthemi)

What is Prescribing information?

The FDA package insert formatted in easy-to-find categories for health professionals and clinicians.

Erwinaze FDA Prescribing Information: Side Effects
(Adverse Reactions)


The following serious adverse reactions are discussed in greater detail in other sections of the label:

The most common adverse reactions (incidence 1% or greater) with ERWINAZE treatment are systemic hypersensitivity, hyperglycemia, transaminases abnormal, fever, pancreatitis, local reactions, vomiting, nausea, thrombosis, hyperbilirubinemia, abdominal pain/discomfort, and diarrhea.

Clinical Studies

Because clinical trials are conducted under controlled, but widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in clinical trials of ERWINAZE cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of other drugs and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

The data presented below are based on information collected from Study 1, a single-arm, multi-center, open-label, safety and clinical pharmacology trial (intramuscular administration), the ERWINAZE Master Treatment Protocol (EMTP), an expanded access program (both intramuscular, intravenous, and other or unknown administration), and Study 2, a single-arm, multi-center, open-label, pharmacokinetic (PK) study trial of intravenous administration of ERWINAZE.

Study 1 enrolled 58 patients treated on National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored cooperative group ALL protocols who were unable to continue to receive pegaspargase due to hypersensitivity reactions. Patients received 6 doses of ERWINAZE 25,000 International Units/m² intramuscularly on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule as a replacement for each scheduled dose of pegaspargase remaining on their original treatment protocol. The Study 1 population included patients with a median age of 11 years (2 to 18 years); 59% were male, 78% were White, 10% were Black/African American, 5% were Asian, and 7% were other or unknown. A total of 35% were Hispanic or Latino. In Study 1, the number of ERWINAZE courses ranged from 1 to 9. In this study, 76% (44 of 58) completed all planned therapy. Fourteen (24%) patients stopped therapy prior to completion; seven due to allergic reactions, five due to physician or patient choice, one due to disease progression, and one due to discontinuation during frontline protocol. All other chemotherapy was continued according to the patient's prescribed treatment regimen [see Clinical Studies].

Study 2 enrolled 30 patients [29 were being treated for ALL and one for lymphoblastic lymphoma (LBL)] following allergy to native E. coli asparaginase or pegaspargase. Patients received ERWINAZE 25,000 International Units/m²/dose, administered by intravenous infusion on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday schedule (6 doses) as a replacement for doses remaining on their original treatment plan. The Study 2 population included patients with a median age of 7 years (1 to 17 years); 63% were male, 27% were Hispanic or Latino, 83% were White, 3% were Black/African American, 7% were Asian, and 7% were other (American Indian, Alaska Native or Indian) [see Clinical Studies].

The EMTP trial enrolled 1368 patients with ALL or lymphoblastic lymphoma who received ERWINAZE after developing systemic hypersensitivity to an E. coli-derived asparaginase. Of these 1368 patients, safety data were received for 940 patients with a median age of 9 years (0 to 76 years), 63% were male, 91% with leukemia, 3% with lymphoma, and 6% with unknown disease information. Patients received ERWINAZE according to several schedules, and treatment center specifications with doses that ranged from 20,000 to 25,000 International Units/m². The route of administration was intramuscular n=852, intravenous n=29, other or unknown n= 59. In the EMTP trial, the planned number of doses of ERWINAZE ranged from 3 to 48 doses. Seventy-eight percent of patients (693 of 893) were able to receive all planned doses to complete their prescribed treatment regimen.

In Study 1 and Study 2, safety information was prospectively and systematically collected. In Study 1, all Grades of adverse events were reported for the following adverse events of special interest: allergy, pancreatitis, coagulopathy (hemorrhage, thrombosis or infarct), hyperbilirubinemia, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, ketoacidosis, and CNS events (hemorrhage, thrombosis or infarction, and cerebral venous thrombosis) and only Grade 3 and 4 events were reported for other adverse events. In Study 2 all adverse events of all Grades were prospectively collected. In the EMTP trial, safety data were derived from case report forms that collected adverse event information. The forms specifically requested information on occurrence of allergic reactions, thrombotic events, hemorrhagic events, hepatobiliary disorders, pancreatic disorders, and hyperglycemia.

The incidence of non-hematologic, non-infectious, adverse events (all Grades) in Study 1, Study 2, and the EMTP trial is provided in Table 1.

Table 1: Per Patient Incidence of Non-Hematologic and Non-Infectious* Adverse Events**

Type of Event Description of Event (Collated Term) Study 1 (IM)
Study 2 (IV)
Allergic Reactions Total 8 (14%) 11 (37%) 149 (16%)
Hypersensitivity (systemic) 8 (14%) 11 (37%) 128 (14%)
Local Reactions 0 0 31 (3%)
Liver Abnormalities Total 7 (12%) 4 (13%) 42 (4%)
Elevated transaminase 6 (10%) 4 (13%) 33 (4%)
Hyperbilirubinemia 6 (10%) 0 8 ( < 1%)
Hyperammonemia 0 0 7 ( < 1%)
Hyperglycemia Hyperglycemia 7 (12%) 5 (17%) 35 (4%)
Gastrointestinal Symptoms Not Associated with Pancreatitis Total 3 (5%) 6 (20%) 39 (4%)
Nausea 2 (3%) 6 (20%) 23 (2%)
Vomiting 3 (5%) 5 (17%) 28 (3%)
Abdominal Pain/ Discomfort 1 (2%) 0 13 (1%)
Pancreatitis Pancreatitis 1 (2%) 2 (7%) 37 (4%)
Fever Fever 2 (3%) 3 (10%) 36 (4%)
Clinical Coagulation Abnormalities Total 1 (2%) 2 (7%) 27 (3%)
Thrombosis*** 1 (2%) 2 (7%) 20 (2%)
Hemorrhagic Disorder 0 0 9 (1%)
Mucositis Mucositis 0 2 (7%) 11 (1%)
Diarrhea Diarrhea 0 1 (3%) 10 (1%)
*Hematologic and infectious adverse events observed in these studies are not included in this table. Patients were enrolled in uncontrolled trials and were receiving multi-agent myelosuppressive chemotherapy making causality unclear.
** Type of Event reported in more than 1% in EMTP trial
***Including pulmonary embolism and cerebrovascular accident

The incidence of Grade 3 or greater non-hematologic, non-infectious adverse reactions occurring with ERWINAZE in Study 1, Study 2 and EMTP trial is provided in Table 2.

Table 2: Incidence of Non-Hematologic, Non-Infectious, Grade 3 and 4 Adverse Reactions

Description of Event-Collated Term Study 1 (IM)
Study 2 (IV)
Allergic Reactions 5 (9%) 1 (3%) 42 (4%)
-Hypersensitivity (systemic, Grade 3) 5 (9%) 1 (3%) 34 (4%)
-Anaphylactic Reaction (Grade 4) 0 0 8 ( < 1%)
Hyperglycemia 1 (2%) 1 (3%) 33 (4%)
Liver Abnormalities 3 (5%) 0 7 ( < 1%)
-Transaminases Abnormal 3 (5%) 0 6 ( < 1%)
-Hyperbilirubinemia 0 0 1 ( < 1%)
Pancreatitis 0 2 (7%) 8 ( < 1%)
Clinical Coagulation Abnormalities 0 0 9 ( < 1%)
-Thrombosis* 0 0 8 ( < 1%)
-Hemorrhagic Disorder 0 0 1 ( < 1%)
Gastrointestinal Symptoms Not Associated with Pancreatitis 1 (2%) 2 (7%) 6 ( < 1%)
-Abdominal Pain/Discomfort 1 (2%) 1 (3%) 3 ( < 1%)
-Nausea 1 (2%) 1 (3%) 3 ( < 1%)
-Vomiting 1 (2%) 1 (3%) 3 ( < 1%)
*Including pulmonary embolism and cerebrovascular accident


As with most therapeutic proteins, patients may develop anti-drug antibodies (ADA) to ERWINAZE.

In a study with ERWINAZE treatment by intramuscular administration (Study 1), 6 of 56 (11%) patients treated with ERWINAZE developed antibodies to ERWINAZE. Of these 6 ADA positive patients, one experienced a hypersensitivity reaction during Study 1 (2%, 1 of 56). None of these 6 patients had neutralizing antibodies.

In a study with ERWINAZE treatment by intravenous administration (Study 2), 4 of 30 (13.3%) patients treated with ERWINAZE developed anti-ERWINAZE antibodies. Of these 4 patients who developed anti-ERWINAZE antibodies, 3 experienced hypersensitivity reactions (10%, 3 of 30) during the study. None of these 4 patients had neutralizing antibodies.

The presence of ADA to ERWINAZE is associated with a higher risk of hypersensitivity reactions in patients who received ERWINAZE through intravenous infusion compared to intramuscular administration of ERWINAZE.

Immunogenicity assays are highly dependent on the sensitivity and specificity of the assay and may be influenced by several factors such as: assay methodology, sample handling, timing of sample collection, concomitant medications, and underlying disease. For these reasons, comparison of the incidence of antibodies to ERWINAZE with the incidence of antibodies to other products may be misleading.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Erwinaze (Asparaginase Erwinia Chrysanthemi)

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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